AcademicsDec 18, 2023

updated Jan 23, 2024

Into the Woods

Hands-on science on campus

It’s a drizzly morning when Science Teacher Kennedy Raimer dispatches her Hallmark Environmental Science students to the MHS woods. Ordinarily, it’d be a great day to stay inside, but today, it’s a great day to look for salamanders!

The students are practicing a field sampling technique using transects — a straight line through a natural landscape so standardized observations and measurements can be made. It’s more systematic than a random sampling. “Salamander boards,” sheets of plywood, have been placed along the transects.

Under the boards and downed logs, students look for and collect salamanders, recording the species and measuring each salamander. The study provides an idea of the salamander population health, which tends to indicate an area’s overall environmental health. The MHS campus is quite healthy!

The project is just one way Hallmark Environmental Science explore local and global systems; study conservation, energy sources, and climate change; and find solutions to environmental problems.

“It teaches the skills of how to do an actual population study and how to do field sampling,” explains Ms. Raimer, and the method is a solid skill for students exploring careers in science. “It’s a way to expose students to actual field research methods with an animal we can catch and measure.” And, put back!